After interviewing candidates and deliberating in executive session, members of City Council’s Governance Committee voted Wednesday to extend the application deadline for the open position on the San Antonio Water System’s board of trustees.

The decision to extend the deadline, which had been Aug. 20, to Oct. 1 came after the committee’s five members were unable to reach a consensus, said Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who serves on the committee along with Councilwomen Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4), Melissa Cabello Havrda (D6) and Councilmen Manny Pelaez (D8) and John Courage (D9).

The five applicants interviewed Wednesday are still under consideration for the position, said Rocha Garcia.

“I would just like to thank everybody who applied,” Nirenberg said. “We have very qualified candidates.”

Applicants for the board position are vetted by the city clerk, then go to the Governance Committee, which is responsible for further screening and interviewing the candidates. The committee then makes a recommendation to the full City Council, which must vote to approve the SAWS board appointee.

This is the second deadline extension city officials have made while trying to fill the board vacancy left by Leticia Ozuna in June; last month city officials extended the original application deadline from Aug. 6 to Aug. 20. Ozuna, who was appointed to the SAWS board in August 2020, stepped down after being elected to the San Antonio Independent School District school board.

The selection of SAWS board members has proven contentious in recent years, with ethnic tensions in play during the last SAWS board appointment in September 2020.

City Council was divided on whether Robert Potts, a white resident of the southern SAWS sector with an environmental science background, could better represent that community than Fernando Reyes, a Hispanic auto manufacturing executive who lived in the Dominion, a Northside gated community.

Both Potts and Reyes ended up withdrawing, and the City Council confirmed small business owner Ed Belmares to the board. 

SAWS is divided into four quadrants — northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest — each represented by a board member. An additional overlay makes up another two quadrants, with one trustee each representing the north and south halves of the city. The mayor acts as an ex officio member of the board.

This time, applicants are being vetted for the seat that represents the southeastern quadrant of the SAWS service area. Applicants must live within SAWS that service area to be considered for the position.

The Governance Committee also approved recommending the reappointment of SAWS board trustees David McGee, Eduardo Parra, Amy Hardberger, and Chair Jelynne LeBlanc Jamison. The recommendation will go before City Council on Sept. 30 for approval.

This article has been updated with the date of the next City Council meeting.

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report.